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Couples With One ADHD Partner

new to board but not new to ADHD/ADD

First post.
I have a husband of almost 20 years that was diagnosed right after we married.
My 11 year old son has ADHD that was dx when he was 6.
My 13 year old daughter self diagnosed about a week ago and has ADD….
I DONT have it but might as well since it surrounds me every day….
I have been through my husband cheating on me twice and trying to decide how I could raise my kids on my own.
After 20 years of marriage and dealing with both kids I am at a cross roads.
I realized I have lost a great deal of myself over that last few years and want to get back to taking care of myself.
My husband and I own our business and I quit my job about a year ago to help with the business and spend more time with our kids.
The good things have been helping my kids deal with all the challenges of being pre-teens. I feel they have needed me around more now than when they were little and I see two very happy adjusted kids.
I think I have made a huge mistake by quitting my job and working with my husband.  When we disagree on how to handle things, he immediately thinks I am judging his behavior or taking advantage of his ADHD. He says things that are very hurtfull and I can no longer see things objectively.
I have started taking steps to go back to work as an RN and seperate myself from our business.
I know that by doing this, I may be taking steps to end our relationship. He takes all of this very personal and I know from past experiences that he may lash out and push me further away.
I am reaching out to see if anyone else has been through this and maybe help me see things objectively


I think separating yourself from the business and going back to nursing is a good idea; maybe part time to begin with, so you can have some ‘you time’ also. It will give you the time apart from your husband and the business you need to get back on even keel.

And your intention to start ‘taking better care of yourself’ is also a really good step; I would start doing that today. It is super easy to get caught up with taking care of family members with ADHD at your own expense; but it will create resentment if you are not taken care of properly also; and the only one who will do that for you, is you. If you have neglected your own needs for a long time it can be hard to know where to start; suggest you make a list of the things that relax you, energize you or feed your soul and put one on your ‘to do list’ every day.

Once you have more time apart you can work on looking at your relationship more objectively. Getting some joint counseling or coaching with an ADHD savvy professional, so you can discuss the situation with a third party, would be ideal – but if your husband is not keen, then go alone.

I have seen many relationships improve when both parties understand how the ADHD is turning up and how it impacts the relationship; you may know, he may not? Explore each other’s weaknesses and strengths and learn how to manage and utilize both. Then develop the habit of consciously focusing on what you like and love about the other; notice what they do right. And create some habits that will re-build your marriage (regular, booked and on calendar, date night is one).

It’s not easy to do the above but you have hung in this long so it’s probably worth the effort to see if you can co-create a relationship that supports and nurtures both parties…. while you personally take care of figuring out, and doing, what makes you happy and fulfilled.

Best of luck; you sound like a really generous and supportive women and a great mum 

Posted by Lindsay H on Nov 04, 2013 at 12:37am

thank you Lindsay!!!
If you know of any amazing therapists in the Phoenix area, I could use some referrals. My husband has a psychiatrist, but all she does is change his meds around.  The last round was awfull- mirtazapine….made him cranky at night and almost without any emotions at all during the day.  He called her and she cut the dose in half, but he told me today he stopped taking it.  He has a pretty significant issue with anxiety on top of ADHD….now he has ten more pounds to show for it….

Posted by aztotallyoutnumbered on Nov 04, 2013 at 1:33am

My god, it is amazing how much your husband sounds like mine!

I told my husband about a year ago that I was no longer willing to live a lie.  What I meant was pretending like everything was OK, pretending like it was OK for him to mistreat me and the kids and disengage because he has ADD… and the result has been that my BS detector has been on full blast and I have called him on his behavior and his excuses.  This may not sound novel, but I finally got to a place after almost 20 years together where I am not willing to get upset anymore.  It occurred to me that as long as I stay in a state of high emotion because of my husband’s ADD (and my daughter’s) and the state of our relationship there was no way for me to change anything. 

I had to find some peace so that I could get some perspective.  There is value in every relationship but I don’t believe that longevity should be weighted any higher than any other quality.  But you have to be clear on what exactly you are staying in a relationship for without judging yourself.  We judge each other and ourselves way too harshly and are so unforgiving of mistakes in our society.  We are great grudge holders but the champions are people with ADD!  You do have to detach, but not as a punishment to your husband or to try to prove anything to him or yourself or even with an end to leave.  You have to detach because it is necessary to be able to see yourself and your husband and your kids clearly.  Without value judgement or even as an means to an end of deciding anything or not.  Clarity in itself is a worthy pursuit.

I think until you really have clarity on the dynamic that you all have created you can’t even know what you want!  I’m not entirely sure what I want yet, though I know its coming.  But I feel a whole lot calmer and less reactive, even though I am less willing to let things go I might have before.  The key is peace.  When I am at peace with myself I can say what I want calmly and I actually get it sometimes!

One thing at a time.  Pick a focus and stick with it till you feel there.  There is no rush.  You know the family dynamic and know you can manage with it, but know you need a change.  But you need to know in what direction you are moving TO, not away from.

Best to you.  I totally relate.

Posted by YellaRyan on Nov 04, 2013 at 10:25am

Wow - I am brand new to this board as of tonight, and I am in the right place!  I have a 14 year old with ADD/anxiety, and a husband of 15 years, with the same.  I grew up with a brother with ADHD, and that is how I recognized it in my husband (about a year after we were married…)

It is such a struggle living in this dynamic.  I often feel like the only adult in the house, and I get very resentful. As I’m sure most of you are also, I am in charge of EVERYTHING - bills, schedules, schoolwork, holidays, etc… It gets old and tiring, and I feel like it is just expected of me, and not appreciated. 
What is so frustrating to me, is that so much of the behavior I describe is unconscious on his part.  That, however, does not make it any more acceptable or easy to deal with.  ADD is such a “selfish” condition!

My husband only becomes “present” when the subject is something “fun” or is something that interests him.  Otherwise, most situations are mine to deal with. 
This makes it so hard for me not to become controlling, and also, resentful of his input when he suddenly decides to “participate” in a discussion or situation at hand.

I can relate to all of the previous posts, and have kicked around all the same ideas - “would this be easier on my own?”  “Where would I go & raise my kids, in a similar lifestyle/neighborhood?”  Sometimes I do feel like I am losing myself.  I don’t like the person I am some days.  I don’t like the person my kids see in me, as that is not the true “me”. 
The hardest part is, my husband is not a “bad” man.  He’s not a bad father or a bad person.  My kids adore him, and he really does try very hard to please, but he is REALLY hard to connect with on an emotional/intimate relationship level, as there is very little self awareness on his part.

His anxiety makes him quick tempered towards both myself and our kids in any type of stressful situation. 
I always call him out on his behavior, as I don’t think my kids should ever see that type of behavior as acceptable, but then I am creating another unacceptable situation between he and I.  It is a no win situation!  I feel lonely and like I am on my own, most of the time. 
I do make sure to take care of myself - (I go to they gym several times a week, go out with my friends when I can, I’m in a book club, and I try and relax and read in a quiet area of the house on occasion)  I have to do this for myself.  If I don’t, I find myself getting very depressed and feeling isolated.  It makes me happy and allows for self preservation.
All this helps, but doesn’t get rid of the lonely, empty feeling of having a spouse you are not emotionally connected to.  How does one keep yourself whole, and true to yourself, living in this situation? 
Boy - I really went off on several tangents - sorry!  It just felt so good to say this to an unbiased audience that I got carried away!
Thanks for any and all feedback - it is appreciated…

Posted by howtodoadd on Nov 26, 2013 at 8:21am

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